(KAIT) - A group of about 85 Opportunity Zones was given the go-ahead Friday by the United States Treasury Department as officials say the opportunity will provide a strong economic boost in areas that need it.
According to a media release from Gov. Asa Hutchinson's office, the Treasury Department approved each of the areas under consideration. The program, which is part of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, allows investors to defer payment of taxes on capital gains on profits that are earned in the zone area.
"They must invest the money through a corporation or partnership that was organized for the specific purpose of investing in Opportunity Zones. The investor's fund must hold at least 90 percent of its assets in qualifying property. The eligible zones are based on U.S. Census tracts, and governors of each state were allowed to nominate up to 25 percent of eligible tracts," the media release noted.
Hutchinson said the announcement will provide an opportunity in those areas.
"Treasury's approval means that some of our communities that are struggling economically will have the chance to enjoy the new opportunities that come with fresh thinking and new investment. This money is a down-payment on a better quality of life for many Arkansans," Hutchinson said.
According to the Governor's office, the opportunity zones in Region 8 include:
- Cleburne = one in Heber Springs.
- Craighead = three in Jonesboro.
- Crittenden = one in Marion/West Memphis, one in West Memphis/Edmondson/Anthonyville/Horseshoe Lake.
- Greene = one in Paragould.
- Independence = two in Batesville.
- Jackson = one in Beedeville/Newport/Grubbs/Amagon/Weldon/Tupelo.
- Lawrence = one in Portia/Walnut Ridge/College City.
- Mississippi = one in Burdette/Dell/Blytheville, one in Manila/Leachville and one in Osceola.
- St. Francis = one in Forrest City and one in Caldwell/Forrest City.
- White = one in Searcy.
Earlier this month, Newport Economic Development Commission director Jon Chadwell said the opportunity zone in Jackson County will provide a good chance for economic growth to happen.
"We're really excited about the area because it covers our mega industrial site, it covers most of our industrial properties, it covers a good portion of our existing industries," Chadwell said. "So it covers an area where we know investment will happen."